Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2274527
 


 



The Impact of Neuroimages in the Sentencing Phase of Capital Trials


Michael J. Saks


Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

N. J. Schweitzer


Arizona State University

Eyal Aharoni


University of California, Santa Barbara - Department of Psychology

Kent Kiehl


University of New Mexico

June 5, 2013

Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Forthcoming

Abstract:     
Although recent research has found that neurological expert testimony is more persuasive than other kinds of expert and non-expert evidence, no impact has been found for neuroimages beyond that of neurological evidence sans images. Those findings hold true in the context of a mens rea defense and various forms of insanity defenses. The present studies test whether neuroimages afford heightened impact in the penalty phase of capital murder trials.

Two mock jury experiments (n=825 and n=882) were conducted online using nationally representative samples of persons who were jury-eligible and death-qualified. Participants were randomly assigned to experimental conditions varying the defendant’s diagnosis (psychopathy, schizophrenia, normal), type of expert evidence supporting the diagnosis (clinical, genetic, neurological sans images, neurological with images), evidence of future dangerousness (high, low), and whether the proponent of the expert evidence was the prosecution (arguing aggravation) or the defense (arguing mitigation).

For defendants diagnosed as psychopathic, neuroimages reduced judgments of responsibility and sentences of death. For defendants diagnosed as schizophrenic, neuroimages increased judgments of responsibility; non-image neurological evidence decreased death sentences and judgments of responsibility and dangerousness. All else equal, psychopaths were more likely to be sentenced to death than schizophrenics. When experts opined that defendant was dangerous, sentences of death increased. A backfire effect was found such that the offering party produced the opposite result than that being argued for when the expert evidence was clinical, genetic, or non-image neurological. But when the expert evidence included neuroimages, jurors moved in the direction argued by counsel.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 32

Keywords: neuroscience, expert evidence, bias, psychopathy

Accepted Paper Series


Download This Paper

Date posted: June 6, 2013 ; Last revised: June 13, 2013

Suggested Citation

Saks, Michael J. and Schweitzer, N. J. and Aharoni, Eyal and Kiehl, Kent, The Impact of Neuroimages in the Sentencing Phase of Capital Trials (June 5, 2013). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2274527

Contact Information

Michael J. Saks (Contact Author)
Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )
Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States
Nicholas J. Schweitzer
Arizona State University ( email )
PO BOX 37100
Phoenix, AZ 85069-7100
United States
602-543-8133 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://lsprg.asu.edu
Eyal Aharoni
University of California, Santa Barbara - Department of Psychology ( email )
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States
Kent Kiehl
University of New Mexico ( email )
107 Humanitites Building
Albuquerque, NM 87131-1221
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 1,277
Downloads: 294
Download Rank: 58,631
Paper comments
No comments have been made on this paper

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo3 in 0.656 seconds